Summer is coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean we can’t squeeze in a few more fun adventures! We woke up yesterday and the weather was perfect. A cool breeze and the sun shining. I knew we needed to be out of the house. I asked Amelia if she had any suggestions, and of course she answered with, “The magic garden!”
Nestled in Cincinnati at the Glennwood Gardens, there lies a magical little place called “The Highfield Discovery Garden”. We stumbled across this little treasure about 2 years ago. It’s a cheap place to take the kids where they can explore and play hands on with various activities around the garden. It truly is one of the most unique places I’ve ever seen. From fairy gardens, to crooked play houses, miniature trains to a 25-foot discovery tree. With so much to explore, the kids are entertained for hours.
The entrance to Glennwood Garden is beautiful. We always make a little loop around the fountain before heading in to the discovery garden. There are walking trails in the park as well, but we’ve never gotten a chance to fully explore the other parts of Glennwood.
The main entrance to the Discovery Garden also doubles as their souvenir shop. It’s mystical from the second you walk in. Bumble bees hang from the ceiling. There is a little book nook complete with a train play station and a puppet show set. Amelia always sneaks in a few minutes of play while i’m buying our day passes. It’s a cheap date. $5 a person. You can buy season passes for $40 that gets any 5 people in at anytime through the season. If you live close, this is definitely the best option. While living closer to Cincinnati, we bought a pass and went a few times so it paid for itself. We wouldn’t buy one now living in Dayton, it’s about a 40 minute drive. But if you plan to go more than once, or have a family of 4+, you’re probably better off buying the season pass!
Head down the ramp and out the doors, and the fun begins! They have a a small eating area that you can pack a picnic and relax. There are several tables complete with umbrellas for shade and lots of beautiful plants that attract butterflies and other creatures. Even this creepy spider came to say hey today! Can ya’ll actually believe I got this close to that scary thing? I have never seen a spider like that. Even Amelia was fascinated.
Amelia made me promise I’d include this frog photo- she thought he was the funniest things she’s ever seen.
Down the path, one of the first things you see is the giant Discovery Tree. I think This is might be my favorite part. This thing is HUGE. There are tunnels and stairs, a tree house. And even a telescope that you can look down on the garden from. The detail in this thing is just unreal. Maddox loves this part. He’s very much an explorer and it’s the first thing he ran to. Can you blame him? This tree is straight out of a story book.
It’s not all just play, there’s plenty of opportunities to learn. The staff is more than helpful and always willing to help enrich the little minds. They offer free classes that last for about 10-15 minutes in the Garden Workshop. Today, Amelia and Maddox got to make mud pies while learning about various animals that build their homes out of mud.
Amelia has always wanted to make a mud pie. Today her dream finally came true.
Maddox on the other hand- he wasn’t interested in being dirty. But was fascinated by the critters scattered around the room. There was a snake, a tarantula, and even a cock roach! (Ick!) He stayed and watched them through the glass while his sister made a mess.
Outside the workshop, you’ll find a mini garden. They grow various vegetables and other plants. Amelia was allowed to pick a carrot the first time we visited here! I’ve never seen this kid so happy in my life! She carried that carrot around the entire time we were there. She wanted to bring it home and show Daddy- but she ended up eating it before we made it back. (Yes, we washed it off first. lol)
This time in the garden, there were spinning gourds, corn stalks, squash and plenty of tomatoes. You can’t pick as you please, but if you ask, the staff usually will let you pick something or will walk around showing the kids something neat from the garden. We even got to try a Paw-Paw fruit- Ohio’s only native fruit. I didn’t even know we had a fruit! It tasted like a mix because a mango and a banana, and had a custard like texture. Very, very odd, but kinda good too.
You’ll notice mailboxes set up throughout the garden too. They’re filled with scavenger hunts that you can play while you’re visiting! Of course Max just liked to play “Mail” and that was enough for him.
Frog & Toads Pond is just another one of the secrets in the garden. There’s wildlife swimming in the mini pond among the lily pads. You can’t forget to stop and take a photo with the iconic characters while you’re there!
The great thing about the Discovery Garden is that it’s small enough to explore without a ton of walking to get from one site to the next. They’re small scenes, but not lacking in creativity. The trains are always a huge hit. Multiple trains are weaving their way through a fairy land of story book characters. Just check out Rapunzel!
We honestly missed her the first two times we’ve came. I have always noticed the trolls and fairies, and even the 3 little pigs. I couldn’t believe I had never noticed Rapunzel’s tower!
From here you can take a left to what they call “Grandma’s Scent Garden”, where you’ll find a crooked tea house, and plenty of flowers to smell along the way.
Or follow the right path, past the Wizards hat and be careful not to wake the sleeping dragon next the the bridge 😉
The giant caterpillar tunnel leads to a bright and cheery butterfly garden. The tunnel is usually providing a mist as you walk through it. It’s a great way to cool off in the heat!
This place is truly mesmerizing, even as an adult. I have so much fun bringing the kids here and watching their little imaginations go wild. By time we leave, they’re pooped and zonked our before we get back on the highway. It never fails.
Have you ever been here? If not, it’s definitely a local bucket list item! What are your favorite local gardens? We’re always looking for new adventures and never know what tomorrow will bring! If you have any suggestions on other local places we could try out, let us know in the comments below!